First lady Laura Bush to visit Lake Tahoe on Thursday | NevadaAppeal.com

First lady Laura Bush to visit Lake Tahoe on Thursday

Jeff Munson

First lady Laura Bush will arrive at Lake Tahoe on Thursday for a private fund-raiser similar to the one her husband attended at Glenbrook as a presidential nominee four years ago.

The Republic National Committee event will be at the home of Larry Ruvo, a Las Vegas liquor distributor, who also hosted then-presidential nominee George W. Bush in June 2000. Glenbrook is an exclusive, gated community on the east shore of Lake Tahoe.

Calls to Ruvo were unreturned Tuesday, but according to the Web site georgewbush.com, Ruvo is the 2004 Nevada Finance Chairman and a member of the “Super Rangers” fund-raising club. To be “Super Rangers” members must raise more than $200,000 for the Republican National Committee, according to the Web site GOP.com.

Ruvo is the owner of Las Vegas-based Southern Wine and Spirits of Nevada, the state’s largest liquor distributor, which he began in the 1960s with casino stalwart Steve Wynn.

Ruvo owns the Glenbrook property known as the Old Barn. An adjacent parcel is owned by Harvey Whittemore, arguably considered one of Nevada’s most powerful casino lobbyists.

In 1999, Whittemore and Ruvo made headlines when a bill that included provisions that would have helped the men build a private pier near their properties passed through the Nevada Senate.

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The legislation, dubbed “Piergate” was later stripped in the Nevada Assembly after passing through the Senate with the pier provision.

The president’s 2000 visit was a $1,000 per plate dinner party attended by about 300 people and raised more than $500,000 in donations to the president’s campaign.

Attending the event were several elected Nevada officials and private gaming interests, including Chuck Mathewson, chairman of Reno-based International Gaming Technology, Greg Ferraro of R & R partners, which lobbies and does advertising for the gaming industry, former Lt. Gov. Bob Cashell, now mayor of Reno and a casino owner, and Sig Rogich, a gaming consultant who raised more than $100,000 for Bush’s 2000 campaign, according to a June 2000 Salon.com story.

It is not known how much contributors will be charged to attend Thursday’s fund-raiser. Calls to the RNC were unreturned Tuesday.

The first lady’s visit will be her first at Lake Tahoe. Although a location hasn’t been finalized, Laura Bush will be campaigning Thursday in Reno with the president sometime between 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., said Brooke Buchanan, spokeswoman for the Bush-Cheney campaign.

After the Reno event, the motorcade, led by the Secret Service, will head to Glenbrook. Washoe County law enforcement will follow the Bush brigade, and Douglas County Sheriff’s deputies provide support, said Sheriff Ron Pierini.

On Monday, Pierini met deputies to go over the details of the beefed-up security detail for the first lady’s arrival.

“We will provide security, extra manpower and escorts to and from the basin on the Nevada side,” Pierini said.

The visit to Nevada for the Bushes coincides with visits in Reno, where Teresa Heinz-Kerry will discuss senior citizen and prescription drug issues. Democrat presidential contender John Kerry will visit Las Vegas.

Both candidates are vying for five electoral college votes in the Silver State, considered one of 13 “swing states” that could go either way on Nov. 2.